Jonathan Karrant Knows His Goddamn Jazz Singers, Talks About His Biggest Influences

Categories: all that jazz

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Jazz vocalist Jonathan Karrant moved to the West Coast a little over five years ago from the Ozarks. He's become a fixture in San Diego ever since, crooning his lanky tunes, missing only a martini and a cigarette for the ultimate ring-a-ding-ding feel. He is a straight-forward, unadorned interpreter who has formed his style from the far-flung corners of the vocal field.

"I'm known for digging up a lot of tunes that are not your typical standards," says Karrant. "I throw in a few crowd pleasers but I like finding tunes that are obscure. Songs like "Don't Misunderstand" or "May I Come In?" or "Drinking Again" have only been recorded two or three times." Karrant spoke with us about a few of those far-flung influences. If you like where he's coming from, you'll want to check him out at Spaghettini in Seal Beach this Sunday, August 19.

Johnny Hartman & John Coltrane
"They Say It's Wonderful" from Johnny Hartman & John Coltrane (1963)


I think his album with John Coltrane is probably one of the best jazz albums ever. He is mostly known for being a ballad singer. He didn't record a lot of the "Fly Me to the Moon" kind of stuff that has been recorded 10,000 times.


Little Jimmy Scott
"Slave to Love" from Holding Back the Years (1998)


He's kind of a singer's singer. I know that Elton John and Diana Krall have a lot of respect for him. When he was younger and becoming popular, he helped changed the way people do their phrasing. He's turned me on to some tunes I wouldn't know if it weren't for him like "My Mother's Eyes" and "Slave to Love."

Etta Jones
"Don't Go to Strangers" from Etta Jones (1960)


Etta Jones just has a cool easy breezy blues. She's definitely a blues singer. She has a rough kind of Billie Holiday voice but I guess most of her tunes are just easy to hear and have a kind of slow swing going on. I guess I just like the blue notes she sings.


Mose Allison
"Fool's Paradise" from I Love the Life I Live (1960)


He is another singer's singer. I know Diana Krall has recorded a ton of his tunes. He's got clever lyrics and a great sense of humor. My top Mose tune would be "Fool's Paradise." My mother turned me on to that one. He comes from a blues background and a southern kind of feel. It's a different place than a jazz background. I got to meet him and hang out with him. We share some stories. He had a cool laidback sense about him. He had a nice laugh.


Freddy Cole
"Blame It On My Youth" from Because of You (2006)


Freddy Cole has some tunes I don't think anyone else has done. "Correct Me If I'm Wrong" etc. He's another guy that is just cool, laidback. I think his voice is easy on the ear as far as a singer goes.


John Pizzarelli Trio
"After You've Gone" live from 1998


John Pizzarelli's arrangements are extraordinary. A tune I like a lot is called "All Too Soon." They are just so clever. He'll take "St. Louis Blues" and sing "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" over it. I've seen him perform live and I had no idea where the arrangements would go next. I think I requested "Beautiful Moons Ago" when I saw him.

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